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Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment

Media release

4 December 2006

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment

Dr Jan Wright, an independent policy analyst and consultant with a number of non-executive public sector directorships, has been selected to be the next Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment (PCE).

A notice of motion endorsing her appointment will be put before the House this week and, if approved, the House will recommend that the Governor-General make the appointment.

The Speaker and Chair of the Officers of Parliament Committee, Hon Margaret Wilson, said Dr Wright’s strong academic credentials and personal attributes gave her the ability to apply intellectual rigour to complex matters affecting ordinary people.

‘I am very pleased that we were able to attract someone with Jan’s intellect, breadth and depth of experience and effective strategic thinking skills,’ Ms Wilson said.

Dr Wright has a Doctor of Philosophy in public policy from Harvard University, a Master of Science in energy and resources from the University of California and a Bachelor of Science (First Class Honours) in physics from the University of Canterbury.

She is currently Chair of Land Transport New Zealand and a board member of the Accident Compensation Corporation and Transit New Zealand. Previously she was Chair of Transfund New Zealand and she has been a board member of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. She was also a member of the Independent Biotechnology Advisory Council.

Since becoming an independent policy analyst and consultant in 1998, her clients have included the Ministry for the Environment, the Ministry of Health, the Environmental Risk Management Authority, the Royal Commission on Genetic Modification and the Parliamentary Select Committee on Transport and the Environment.

On taking up her new appointment, Dr Wright will resign from all directorships and consultancy work.

The role of the PCE was established in 1986 to provide independent scrutiny, advocacy and advice with a goal of maintaining and improving the quality of New Zealand’s environment. The PCE has the capacity to investigate, report and make recommendations on any matter where the environment may be or has been adversely affected.

The PCE advises and assists Parliament to ensure that in the management of natural and physical resources, a full and balanced account is taken of all the issues relating to the environment. This includes the intrinsic values of ecosystems, the sustainability of natural and physical resources, the values placed by the people of New Zealand on the quality of the environment and the needs of future generations.

The PCE is independent of the Government and reports to the House through the Speaker, working within established practices that do not impinge on the PCE’s independence.

Dr Wright takes over from Dr Morgan Williams, who did not seek a third five-year term of office, on 5 March 2007.


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